8 February 2018
Monthly Forecast: February 2018
UN Photo/Ariane Rummery
story highlights

The Global SDG 7 Conference will focus on ‘Energizing the 2030 Agenda,’ and will aim to provide substantive input for the review of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) at HLPF 2018.

We will keep an eye on this discussion as well as other preparations for the HLPF 2018 review of SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 15 and SDG 17, as well as the ongoing voluntary national reviews that 48 countries are undertaking to set out their national planning to implement the SDGs.

Among the six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under High Level Political Forum (HLPF) review this year, February will bring intensive preparations for consideration of SDG 7 on sustainable energy. In particular, the Global SDG 7 Conference will convene, with a focus on ‘Energizing the 2030 Agenda.’ To provide substantive input for the SDG 7 review at HLPF 2018, the meeting will consider trends and gaps, interlinkages with other SDGs, means of implementation, and opportunities to leverage linkages between SDG 7 and other Goals to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development overall. In addition to energy, this month, the international community will also further preparations for the review of Goals and targets related to water, forests and sustainable cities.

Access to energy spurs poverty eradication, food security, provision of clean water and health services, education, and overall opportunities for economic growth and prosperity. The discussions on energy access in the context of achieving the SDGs overall will therefore likely be influenced by recent events and publications on these linkages. The report by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) and Power for All titled, ‘Why Wait? Seizing the Energy Access Dividend,’ for instance, shows that the access to renewable energy provides quantifiable “dividends” for poverty reduction (SDG 1), combatting hunger (SDG 2), improving health and well-being (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4), reducing inequalities (SDG 10) and supporting climate action (SDG 13). The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) report titled, ‘Least Developed Countries Report 2017,’ also highlighted these linkages. It found that that lack of access to energy is a key barrier to growth in least developed countries (LDCs). The publication suggests that LDCs require a 350% increase in the annual rate of electrification to meet SDG 7.

Another report by International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) is optimistic that the challenge of providing access to energy for all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be met. It predicts that all forms of renewable electricity will be cheaper than all forms of fossil-fuel based electricity generation by the end of 2020. The rapid decline in the cost of renewable energy sources also raises concerns, however, as the accelerating global energy transition could impact the dynamics of trade and relations between energy exporting and importing nations. To consider these implications, the IRENA Council established the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation to study relevant evidence to inform policy makers in a timely manner.

Several regional and thematic energy-related events will precede the Global SDG 7 Conference. These include: the Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa, which will discuss the role of equitable access to energy for fostering economic transformation in the East African Region; and a Regional Workshop on Geothermal Financing and Risk Mitigation in Africa, which will look at innovative models and best practices in overcoming barriers to geothermal energy finance in African countries. On the related issue of energy and emissions in civil aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization is offering seminars on implementing the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

On SDG 6, the UN-Water meeting at February’s outset was a step towards the high-level events and reports forthcoming next month. In March, the global water and sanitation community will gather in Brasilia, Brazil, for the 8th World Water Forum, and will mark World Water Day and the launch the International Decade for Action – Water for Sustainable Development (2018-2028) on 22 March. Consultations on the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 will begin in February and continue in March.

For SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), the ninth World Urban Forum (WUF 9) is currently considering the theme, ‘Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda.’ It is focused on how to advance the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the SDGs. In February, the SDG 11 community will also be preparing for the Cities and Climate Change Science Conference, which will convene at the beginning of March and will seek to inform the upcoming IPCC reports, and support cities and citizens in building low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable cities towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.

Regarding SDG 15 (life on land), target 2 (sustainable forest management), a symposium on ‘Deforestation-Free Global Supply Chains’ was organized in early February, and will feed into a conference, also in February, organized by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. This latter meeting, subtitled ‘From Aspiration to Action,’ will provide substantive input to the HLPF through the 13th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 13), which will convene in May.

We will keep an eye on these and other preparations for the HLPF 2018 review as well as the ongoing voluntary national reviews (VNRs) that 48 countries are undertaking to set out national planning, coordination, and global implementation of the SDGs.

Stefan Jungcurt, Lynn Wagner, Faye Leone and Lauren Anderson

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